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Definition of Social Media and How It Works

Social media refers to websites and applications that are designed to allow people to share content quickly, efficiently, and in real-time. This communication tool began with computers when many people accessed websites through applications. Websites may refer to any communication tool that allows users to share content widely and engage with the public.

The ability to comment, and share photos and events in real time has changed the way we live and work. Here are the basics of understanding social media and how it can be used to promote your business.

What is Social Media?

Social media is any tool that allows users to create and share content. Social media encompasses a wide range of applications and websites. Some, like Twitter, focus on sharing messages and links. Others, like Instagram and TikTok, are built to enhance the sharing of videos and photos.

What makes social media unique is that it is uncensored and broad. Although many social media companies impose some restrictions—such as nudity or hate speech—there are fewer restrictions on what a person can share compared to other methods of communication, like radio stations, newspapers, and television stations.

Anyone with internet access can sign up for a social media account. They can use the account, and their post reaches anyone who visits their profile or page.

The use of hashtags on social media groups content by topic, allows users to connect with others who share their interests.

How Social Media Works

Since social media covers different types of applications and websites, the function of the tools varies. However, social media websites usually begin with a user creating a profile by providing an email address and a name.

Once a profile has been created, users can create and share content. For example, an Instagram user can take a picture with a new account and share it. In addition to creating content, social media users can find other users whose posts they want to follow or comment on. Depending on the type of social media, a user can “follow” another user, add them as a “friend,” or they can “subscribe” to another user’s page.

Social media often uses “feeds” that allow users to scroll through posts. Social media companies use algorithms, based on a user’s profile data, to determine the content that appears and the order it appears in. The feed will include content from “followed” users, as well as from entities that pay to promote their content.